Arsenal defender admits Martin Odegaard handball WAS penalty for Liverpool

Though both the referee and VAR were convinced Martin Odegaard’s handball did not warrant a penalty for Liverpool, one of his team-mates admitted it should.

Odegaard clearly handled the ball in the penalty area in the first half of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal, but the foul was waved away.

The midfielder was adjudged to have slipped and attempt to balance himself with his hand in a natural movement, though instead he dribbled the ball like a basketball.

It denied a clear opportunity for Salah, who would have been through on goal had Odegaard not intervened, and it is certainly questionable whether it was natural.

But VAR David Coote saw fit to dismiss any penalty, choosing not to instruct referee Chris Kavanagh to the pitchside monitor for a second review.

Play went on and later Salah cancelled out Gabriel’s opener with a stunning finish, but Liverpool should have had a chance to equalise earlier on.

That was the opinion of Arsenal centre-back William Saliba, who laughed off a question from Norwegian broadcaster Viaplay.

“Yeah, of course!” he chuckled when asked if he thought it was a penalty.

“It was a penalty but I’m not the ref and they have to accept [it].”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts after Arsenal's Bukayo Saka escapes a red card during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It would be wrong to simply focus on the penalty decision, of course, particularly as Liverpool had a number of chances to take the lead in the second half.

A flurry of opportunities emerged soon after the break as a high press forced Arsenal defenders into mistakes, but the likes of Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz were unable to finish.

In the end, the biggest chance fell to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who failed to find the back of the net when Salah passed to him in a five-on-one situation.

But Saliba’s admission that Liverpool did deserve a penalty is glaring, with it seemingly only the officials who felt it wasn’t a handball.